Friday, February 26, 2010

“See that wall over there? Your [ ] helped with it ………”

Your esteemed blog hosts recently discussed together the number of people they’ve run into over the years, who remember hearing the above statement told to them by a loved one regarding the wall surrounding A.I. duPont Children’s Hospital.

When Jim first heard those words spoken, he and his family were either on the way to visit relatives in Montchanin or off to a dentist checkup with Dr. Selvaggi at the Lombardy Center on Foulk Road. Whatever prompted his parents to tell him the story of the wall, Jim’s never forgotten it. Perhaps it was because of knowing that one of his family members had actually helped “build” it that it stayed with him. Or maybe it was simply etched into his psyche, because he could not understand why a wall would be topped with so many shards of broken glass.

Jim’s earliest memory of being told about the wall actually comes from his mother. During one of the trips mentioned above, he remembers the wall being pointed out to him, and being told that his Great-Great Uncle, Teodoro ‘Doro’ Piuma, had been a part of setting the shards of glass on top of it. He also recently learned that his great-grandfather, John "Mutèn" Salvo also helped in the building of the wall. Jim can’t remember now if he was told during that initial time that the glass-topped wall was constructed to keep people ‘out’ of the DuPont property, or if it was to actually help keep some individuals ‘in’ on the grounds. Since that time, he has actually heard stories that reflect both possibilities.

When Jim and Frank first began corresponding a few months ago, they exchanged many of the area stories they’d both heard over the years. As one could expect, the story regarding the wall came up. Frank remembers hearing the various rumors concerning the reasons for the foreboding, jagged shards of multi-colored glass atop the thick, stone walls surrounding the Nemours estate. He also recalled the stories that old Alfred I. duPont had the glass put there to keep his unwanted relatives out; and that yet others said it was to keep certain relatives “in.” Other theories that were knocking around verged on the outrageous – i.e., the DuPonts were part of a secret Masonic order and the wall was constructed to keep their various rites and rituals “top secret.”

It turns out, however, that the truth about the glass-topped walls was far less fantastic; they were constructed in the fashion of the walls surrounding other famous estates in the DuPont family's ancestral province in France. So much for family feuds and magical rituals.

In the Summer of 2009, Jim was reconnected with his cousin Rich Ghione. Time, careers, and moves to different areas over the years caused their families to lose touch. Jim was so happy when he was able to get back in contact with Rich. Since there was a lot of catching up to do, the cousins naturally talked a lot on phone and via email, and also shared a large variety of family photos with one another. At one point while Squirrel Run was being discussed, out of nowhere Rich says, “…well you know that wall around AI? The Ferraro family helped build it.” Jim just laughed to himself, since there had been so many different times in his life when he’d heard others mention a similar story. It would include the wall, but about another friend of the family or loved one whom they knew. Jim’s reply of course to Rich was “well I didn’t know about the Ferraros building it, but I know your Uncle Ernie’s uncle helped put the glass on the top!” It was another great moment in the reunion of members in the family, as Rich had never recalled being told that before. Jim believes that for as many stones as there are in that wall, there are an equal number of us out there who have heard about someone being a part of building it. And for him it makes that wall all the more special.

It is an honor for both Jim and Frank to know, whenever driving through the Montchanin/Hagley/St. Joe’s area, that so many members of their families were involved with the variety of different projects that took place in that area so long ago. It is a real privilege to drive through there almost 100 years after the fact, and to still see so many things that their ancestors helped erect and/or maintain. If money was no object, there is a large part of both of them who would really like to live and/or work in that area today, just to continue the “living presence” of their family heritage there.

As we mark the recent centennial anniversary of Nemours, it is an appropriate time to reflect upon those who participated in the construction of this great estate, and the curious wall that surrounds it. It is known for certain that the Piuma, Salvo, Ferraro, and Olivieri families helped build the wall- but several other Squirrel Run men were undoubtedly there too.

If you have any stories about family members who participated in the construction of this great old wall, please email Frank or Jim, we’d love to hear about it!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Our Grandfather(s)

In loving memory of our grandfather, Frank John Rosaio, Jr., on his 80th birthday.

Though we never knew you, we carry you always in our hearts. You are the angel that watches over us, the spirit that guides us and the grandfather that inspires us. You left us the sweetest of grandmothers and gave us the best of parents. We your grandchildren honor your memory proudly on this your 80th birthday.

We love you and miss you …. at vüj bèn noshtr cör papà grande, t’ammanchi tanci.

And to the Salvo family lineage, this posting also honors Ernest Salvo, whose birthday was on February 24th (just yesterday). He is still in our minds and hearts daily as well.

In the picture: Frank J. Rosaio, Jr. (left) & Ernest P. Salvo (right)

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Perrone ed Piedrinìn

My great-grandparents were brother and sister-in-law. How is this possible, you might ask? Well, my great-grandfather’s 1st wife was a sister of my great-grandmother’s 1st husband. So for the 16 years before they were married to one another, my great-grandparents were related by marriage because their spouses were siblings. They had both married into the Perrone family, more specifically “i Perrone ed Piedrinìn.”

Many of the Giusvallini families of Squirrel Run tie into this family by blood or marriage. This is the beginning of their story in America.

The patriarch of this family was Giacomo Paolino “Piedrinìn” Perrone, born in Giusvalla in 1851 and married there on November 17, 1873 to a young orphan named Pasqualina Maria Trento. Four of the five children born to Giacomo and Pasqualina came to Squirrel Run, then as an old man Giacomo himself came to the United States to live out his last years. The children of Giacomo and Pasqualina were:

Maria Teresa, born in Giusvalla in 1875, she married Giovanni Piovano and died in Toulon, France on October 16, 1905. She had two children: Baptistin & Mario.

Caterina “Catarinìn” (Katie), born in Giusvalla in 1879, she worked as a dressmaker in Toulon, France for a couple years with her sister Paolina before coming to the United States in 1907. She settled at Squirrel Run and married Giusvalla native Francesco Rosaio at St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Church on September 5, 1907. Katie Rosaio died in Wilmington on October 25, 1925 of kidney disease and is buried in Cathedral Cemetery.

Francesco Rosaio was already related to another Perrone family through his mother, Maria Caterina “Marinìn” Perrone, who was from the family “Perrone della Collà.” Because there were few family names in Giusvalla, it was common to have multiple generations marrying into families with the same name.

Giovanni Battista “Batistén” (John), born in Giusvalla in 1880, he came to the United States in 1906 and settled at Squirrel Run. He soon bought his own shop at 210 West 8th Street in the city of Wilmington and ran a successful business building and repairing shoes. John married Giusvalla native Giuseppina “Josephine” Pesce at St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Church on October 5, 1911. They had five children: Antonia, Paolo, Alicina (Elsie), Anne & John.

John died at home, 3107 Monroe Street in Wilmington on April 20, 1924 of complications from a disease of the stomach and is buried in St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Cemetery. His widow Josephine remarried in 1927 to her recently widowed brother-in-law, Francesco Rosaio.

Paolina (Pauline), born in Giusvalla in 1883, she worked as a dressmaker in Toulon, France with her sister Caterina for a couple years before arriving in the United States in 1907. She settled in Squirrel Run and married Giusvalla native Giuseppe Camoirano at St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Church in 1907. Paolina and her husband moved to Valley Road, Hockessin where they worked for many years in the mushroom business and became very well known in the area. Paolina died October 31, 1965 at Memorial Hospital in Wilmington and is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Ashland, Delaware. Giuseppe and Paolina had four children: Ernest Jr., Edna, Josephine & Charles.

Paolina’s father Giacomo came from Giusvalla to live with her in 1931. He died at her home in Hockessin on April 16, 1935 and is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Kennett Twp.

Maria (Mary), born in Giusvalla in 1888, she came to the United States in 1921 and settled at Squirrel Run. She married at St. Joseph’s-on-the-Brandywine Church on September 2, 1922 to the widow Francesco “Masetta” Baccino. Francesco’s 1st wife, Luigia Perrone, was a 1st cousin of Francesco Rosaio (who was married to Maria’s sister Caterina). Maria suffered from tuberculosis and died six years after her marriage to Masetta on December 30, 1928 at Delaware State Hospital, Farnhurst. She is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Kennett Twp.

The twice widowed Masetta married a third and final time to the widow Secondina (Olivieri) Zunino at St. Patrick’s Church in Kennett Square on August 1, 1929.

In the picture: The Perrone siblings at Squirrel Run. Standing left to right: Katie (Perrone) Rosaio; Maria (Perrone) Baccino; Paolina (Perrone) Camoirano. Seated: John Battista Perrone. This picture was taken Sept. 23, 1923, the day of the original “Tutti I Giusvallini” reunion.